by Richard T. Stuebi
Did you know that yesterday, January 10, was “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day”? Until a couple days ago, I didn’t. That is, until the folks at SunRun, a provider of residential solar energy systems, promoted the day by sending out the following blast email:
“Five quick tips on how cut costs and save energy this new year.
1. Power Strips: Plug your TV, computer, and other home electronics into power strips and flip the switch when they’re not in use. Even when appliances are turned off, they’re still running on phantom energy. If you don’t use power strips, remember to unplug your appliances when you’re done with them.
2. CFLs: Switch out your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than and use about one-fourth the energy of incandescents.
3. Solar Panels: Reduce your electricity costs by installing solar panels in your home. You use the same amount of energy but pay less for it, because you can lock in a rate with solar, rather than be subject to your utility’s rate increases.
4. Sleep mode: Set your computers to sleep mode, rather than screen saver mode, when not in use. It takes about 100 Watts/hour to run a screen saver on your graphics card. Cut energy costs by letting your screen go black.
5. Air sealing: Seal cracks and openings to prevent outside air from otherwise entering your house. Paired with proper insulation, air sealing can increase energy efficiency and drastically reduce your heating and cooling costs.”
Well, truth be told, #3 above really isn’t an energy saving tip, but I’ll cut SunRun some slack because at least they are honest in pointing out that anyone interested in solar energy should first implement all cost-effective energy efficiency possibilities. It’s crazy, but too often the case, for someone to install a solar energy system when the building itself is terribly inefficient. There’s no point in generating relatively expensive electricity and then wasting it — especially when the costs to avoid the waste are often so modest.
We’ll have made real progress in this country when every day is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.
Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.